10-year Vier Pfoten effort to introduce street dog sterilization to Bucharest gets go-ahead

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)


BUCHAREST–“Authorities in Bucharest, Romania, have finally
agreed to cease killing stray animals and allow our teams to treat
and neuter the city’s 40,000 [street] dogs instead,” the
Vienna-based animal charity Vier Pfoten announced on October 6, 2010.
Vier Pfoten said the pact “may be the biggest breakthrough”
in the more than 10 years that it has sent veterinarians to Romania.
The Vier Pfoten dog and cat sterilization project began in
Bucharest, then expanded into parallel projects elsewhere in
Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Jordan, Egypt, and South Africa.
The initial project in Bucharest was thwarted, however, when
then-Bucharest major Traian Basescu ordered a purge of free-roaming
dogs in 2001. Bucharest pounds killed 48,000 dogs that year, and
have continued to kill dogs ever since. Basescu–long controversial
for many reasons–meanwhile ascended to the presidency of Romania,
and oversaw the admission of Romania to the European Union, whose
public health policies disfavor high-volume killing as an animal
control method.

Instead of leaving Bucharest in protest against the dog
killing, as other outside animal charities did between 2001 and
2004, Vier Pfoten helped the local animal charity Fundatia Speranta
to feed and sterilize hundreds of dogs at a badly managed former city
pound. Vier Pfoten then built a new shelter for the Fundatia
Speranta in 2006 beyond Bucharest jurisdiction, and relocated the
Along the way Vier Pfoten founder Helmut Dungler hired Iona
Tomescu, daughter of the Fundatia Speranta founder, to manage the
Vier Pfoten office in Bucharest. They later married. All the while
Vier Pfoten continued to develop and demonstrate high-volume dog and
cat sterilization as an alternative to killing animals, working in
other Romanian cities and making sure the Bucharest city
administration was informed about the results.
“When our first attempt to launch such a project [in
Bucharest] failed due to political opposition in 2001, Vier Pfoten
made clear that no work would be done in communities where animals
are killed,” said Dungler.
“In summer 2010, a Vier Pfoten delegation resumed
negotiations with the current mayor’s office,” Dungler said, “and
presented the good results achieved elsewhere in Romania. Once talks
took a positive direction, an agreement was eventually reached and
signed, confirming the end of sanctioned dog killings and the start
of our sterilization efforts as of September 10.” Vier Pfoten
expects to sterilize an average of 70 dogs per working day in
“As in all previous projects,” explained a Vier Pfoten media
release, “professional dog catchers bring the animals to our clinic,
where they are dewormed, sterilized, and treated for any diseases
and other ailments found by Vier Pfoten veterinarians. After that,
they are marked with an ear clip and released in the area where they
were found.
“The work, which is financed by supporters and donors, is
maintained under the strict condition that the killing is over,”
Vier Pfoten emphasized.

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